Friday, December 20, 2013

Mama was a Rolling... Oat. A Collection of Oatmeal Mixes

What do you mean, where have I been?  I went back to university to become a nurse.


Social life, remodeling life... anything besides basic cleaning, making sure kids are fed, clean, and clothed has taken a remote back seat to reading, reading, reading, clinical, endless exams, and oh... reading.  I read more now than when I was in law school, and I read so much there that I devised a system for reading while in the shower.

I wish I were kidding about that.

Anyway... I'm on winter break and that means I get to chill out and relax prepare for next semester like a manic squirrel that has 3 weeks to prepare for hibernation.  I've been cleaning, putting away the summer clothes (don't judge!), and cooking like a mad woman because I know that I simply will not have time to do much more than reheat dinner from Monday through Friday (and that one weekend where I have a clinical rotation).  I just need to be able to wake up in that dazed fog that only people who get to sleep for 4 hours a night understand, and microwave some oatmeal for my kids' breakfast.

that's a lot of oatmeal

Instead of frantically stocking up on instant oatmeal packets when they happen to be on sale 4 for $10, I ran out one day because I hadn't had time to go grocery shopping.  I had a lowly canister of rolled oats, some dried apple bits, spices, and sugar in the pantry, so I whipped up my own apple oatmeal mix that morning.  It was SO much better than those overly sweet mushy packets of oatmeal.  I decided then and there to make my own oatmeal mixes, and the kids sometimes ask for oatmeal for dinner.  The stuff is fantastic, and with a couple of "special ingredients" (namely, PB2, freeze dried fruits, and powdered milk)*.  I tend to have those "special ingredients" in my pantry, but feel free to use dehydrated fruits or regular peanut butter and liquid milk if that's what you have on hand.  I need something I can just dump into a bowl and nuke, because it is generally 4:30 a.m. when the kids have breakfast on clinical days, and pre-caffeinated me is NOT awake at 4:30 a.m.

Things you'll need before you start your oatmeal mix-making frenzy:

  • Containers:  You can use gallon sized storage bags, glass jars, plastic cereal containers, empty coffee cans, whatever.  As long as it can be sealed and shaken without spilling your oaty contents all over the counter, you're good.
  • A ginormous bowl:  The chocolate peanut butter oatmeal recipe has 9 cups of oats in it, and that's before you start adding the other ingredients.  You need a big bowl to contain that sort of chaos.
  • A sifter:  This is pretty much necessary only for the chocolate peanut butter oatmeal, because no one wants to bite into a bitter nugget of unsweetened cocoa (as an aside, doing so will definitely wake you up).
If you're going to make all of the mixes at once, you'll need 2 of the large canisters of old-fashioned rolled oats, which weigh a little over 2 pounds each.  They retail in my area for $3 each, which is roughly the price of one 12-packet box of flavored oatmeal.

Pantry items:  granulated sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, Chinese Five Spice, ground cloves, ground ginger, ground allspice, ground nutmeg (or a bottle of apple pie spices to replace the last 4 mentioned), raisins, dried/freeze dried fruit slices or dices (apples, berries), cocoa powder, powdered milk, PB2 powdered peanut butter (or regular peanut butter)

make your pantry work for you

All of these recipes require simple, but thorough, mixing.  Since the ingredients do settle to the bottom of the container, it will be necessary to shake the container before you scoop the oatmeal into bowls to be cooked.  I usually flip it upside down, give it a shake, and everything gets redistributed well.   
The cooking instructions for each recipe is also the same:  1/3 cup of oatmeal mix to 1/2 cup of water, stir and microwave in a microwave-safe bowl for 4 minutes.  Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes, stir, and enjoy.  When this comes out of the micro, it is HOT.  Use oven mitts if your bowls get hot, and don't eat it until it has had a chance to cool to a safe temperature.  Common sense, but in a rush, I've done it and burned the heck out of my mouth.  

APPLE PIE OATMEAL MIX

2 cups freeze dried apple dices, or crushed freeze dried apple slices, or chopped dehydrated apples
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp Chinese Five Spice (this gives it a lovely star anise kick... optional if you can't find it)
OR if using apple pie spice, 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp apple pie spice in addition to the 2 Tbsp cinnamon
5 cups rolled oats
1 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark... I use whatever I have on hand)

Measure 1/3 cup of oatmeal mix to 1/2 cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl, microwave for 4 minutes (900 watt).  Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes, stir, and enjoy.  When this comes out of the micro, it is HOT.  Use oven mitts if your bowls get hot, and don't eat it until it has had a chance to cool to a safe temperature.

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RAISINS & SPICE OATMEAL MIX

5 cups rolled oats
1 cup raisins
2 Tbsp cinnamon
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

Measure 1/3 cup of oatmeal mix to 1/2 cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl, microwave for 4 minutes (900 watt).  Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes, stir, and enjoy.  When this comes out of the micro, it is HOT.  Use oven mitts if your bowls get hot, and don't eat it until it has had a chance to cool to a safe temperature.
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BERRIES & CREAM OATMEAL MIX

6 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup powdered milk
1-1/2 cups freeze dried berries or a blend of freeze dried and dehydrated berries (freeze dried berries taste closer to actual berries than the dehydrated sort, which are more like raisins).  I use 2-3 packets of a freeze-dried mixed berry blend

Measure 1/3 cup of oatmeal mix to 1/2 cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl, microwave for 4 minutes (900 watt).  Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes, stir, and enjoy.  When this comes out of the micro, it is HOT.  Use oven mitts if your bowls get hot, and don't eat it until it has had a chance to cool to a safe temperature.
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CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER OATMEAL MIX

9 cups rolled oats
1 cup powdered milk
2 cups PB2 (a 6.8 oz container is about 2 cups)
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup cocoa powder, sifted (dutched or regular)

Measure 1/3 cup of oatmeal mix to 1/2 cup of water in a microwave-safe bowl, microwave for 4 minutes (900 watt).  Allow to stand for 5-10 minutes, stir, and enjoy.  When this comes out of the micro, it is HOT.  Use oven mitts if your bowls get hot, and don't eat it until it has had a chance to cool to a safe temperature.
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Enjoy!

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